Officials aim to make Phuwiang a UNESCO global geopark

Thailand’s Mineral Resources Department has been working with Khon Kaen provincial administration and local communities in a bid to win UNESCO recognition for Phuwiang Geopark as a UNESCO global geopark.

A geopark information centre was formally opened on Friday by Mr. Sommai Taechaval, director-general of the Mineral Resources Department, and Khon Kaen provincial governor Mr. Somsak Jungtrakul. It will serve as a learning centre for people interested in studying the dinosaurs which roamed the areas of today’s Wiangkao and Phuwiang districts several millions of years go.

Phuwiang district is especially rich in dinosaur fossils. To date, fossils of the five new dinosaur species have been unearthed in the district.

Since dinosaur fossils are regarded as part of Thailand’s geological heritage, Mr. Sommai said that they must be properly preserved so they can be used as a learning tool or for research.

He said that, so far, Thailand is ranked as ASEAN’s No 1 site for dinosaur fossils and the country may, one day, rank as Asia’s top location the discovery of new dinosaur species.

Dr. Suravet Sutheethorn, an expert on dinosaurs at Maha Sarakham University, said that Phuwiang used to be a breeding ground for dinosaurs, hence many fossilized bones from carnivorous and herbivorous dinosaurs of different sizes have been found in the area.

Dr. Pongsak Thongnuakheng, deputy director of Satun Global Geopark, said that the Mineral Resources Department and Khon Kaen provincial administration could use the Satun model in making preparations to apply for UNESCO recognition.

One of the key criteria, he said, is the participation of local communities in the conservation and management of the geopark.

 

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